Experts at HSE University and Lomonosov Moscow State University examined the available data on Moscow's walkability and found the central and south-western parts of the city to be more walkable than others. However, the eastern and south-eastern areas are in need of improvements to make them more pedestrian-friendly. The study has been published in Cities.
In recent years, Moscow has implemented major projects aimed at enhancing the city's walkability. These efforts included the redevelopment of the Boulevard Ring and the establishment of new pedestrian zones in the city centre. The changes have boosted the city's walkability and comfort for both residents and tourists.
The study used open-source data and focused on areas within the old city boundaries as of 2012, prior to the incorporation of New Moscow. The researchers partitioned the city into 223 zones, using metro stations as anchor points. Where two or more metro stations were situated within a 200-metre distance from each other, the areas around them were consolidated into one. The study examined a range of walkability components, such as land use, street connectivity, population density, and proximity to green spaces and water bodies.
The researchers found the areas around Mayakovskaya, Tverskaya—Pushkinskaya—Chekhovskaya, Tsvetnoy Boulevard—Trubnaya, Kitay-Gorod, and Sokol metro stations to be the most pedestrian friendly. In contrast, the neighbourhoods around Novokhokhlovskaya, Nizhegorodskaya, Andronovka, Nekrasovka, and Zhulebino were identified as the least walkable.
The study findings reveal significant disparities in street walkability across Moscow. For instance, the central and south-western districts feature higher walkability, whereas the eastern and south-eastern outskirts of the city are less pedestrian-friendly. These differences are attributable to factors such as population density, the number of road intersections, and access to green spaces. The study also uncovered a connection between walkability and social stratification within the city boundaries, wherein areas of higher social status are associated with greater walkability.
Our study is the first to adapt a walkability index to a Russian city. The resulting methodology can be applied to other cities across the country to help identify the most vulnerable urban areas in terms of walkability.
The researchers also acknowledge that the city's historical context continues to influence its walkability. The most vulnerable areas are those undergoing redevelopment—transitioning from former industrial zones to residential neighbourhoods. These less walkable areas should be a primary focus for the development of green infrastructure and the diversification of land use.
The highest priority in urban planning should be on creating green spaces in new residential areas situated in former industrial parts of the city.
While overall walkability has improved in Moscow, there are still challenges that need to be addressed as part of urban development. According to the researchers, strategies should prioritise further enhancements to pedestrian zones, particularly in residential areas, improving infrastructure and safety, and expanding green spaces and parks.